The Florida Bar committees.

Position:Annual Reports

Admiralty Law

The Admiralty Law Committee had a busy year keeping up with many evolving issues in admiralty and maritime law. Since the practice of maritime law requires expertise in legal doctrines and procedures that are distinct from land-based law, the committee emphasizes continuous education. In addition to programs and materials provided by the committee itself, members were advised about resources and seminars available through other sources.

One of the principal activities of the committee is to prepare the well known and respected reference book, Maritime Law and Practice, which is currently being updated for its fifth edition. Many committee members have contributed authorship to this endeavor.

Committee meetings were particularly lively and informative this past year. There were discussions of some highly controversial disputes at the forefront of maritime law, with both sides of the issues being represented to advocate their cases before the committee. Topics ranged from ship crew members' injury claims to piracy on the high seas. Additional topics included anchoring rights for pleasure yachts, Florida criminal law treatment for boating infractions, offshore drilling near Florida shores, implications of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Exxon Valdez case, marinas' and boatowners' liabilities for hurricane damages, and the procedures and law applicable to arbitration of maritime claims.

The Admiralty Law Committee has served as a valuable forum for discussion and education on maritime law issues.



The Standing Committee on Advertising is responsible for advising members of The Florida Bar on permissible advertising and marketing practices. The committee, which generally meets monthly, reviews appeals of opinions issued by staff counsel, offers guidance to staff in evaluating lawyer advertisements, makes recommendations regarding rule changes, and provides guidance to Florida Bar members concerning both the substantive and procedural requirements of the advertising rules.

The committee advises Bar members on the substance of the advertising rules through a variety of methods. An in-depth analysis of the filing requirements, substantive regulations, and committee interpretations is provided by the Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation, which is regularly updated by Bar staff and is posted on the Bar's Web site for easy access.

Some of the important changes to the advertising rules had been developed by the Advertising Task Force 2004, which had received the assistance of several committee members. The goal of the amendments was to make the Bar's advertising rules easier to understand and follow. One very significant change to the rules is the requirement that all nonexempt television and radio advertisements be filed for review at least 15 days before their intended use and approved by the Bar before their first dissemination. Other important changes include the elimination of the requirement for the hiring disclosure in print advertisements and the elimination of the size requirements for other required disclosures in advertisements.

In addition on February 26, 2008, the Bar filed a petition to amend the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar (Rule 4-7.6, Computer Accessed Communications) in case number SC08-1181. The court issued its order on February 27, 2009, declining to adopt any of the changes proposed by the Bar regarding 4-7.6. On March 13, 2009, the Bar filed a motion for clarification and rehearing and that matter remains pending.

The committee, through its staff, continues to publish a column in The Florida Bar News from time to time, titled Advertising Updates. Articles have been published explaining the most recent revisions to the advertising rules and providing information regarding recent opinions of the Board of Governors and the committee regarding advertising. The committee further updates the Bar's Web site with new material and information when needed in order to provide Bar members with as much information as possible to assist them in compliance with the attorney advertising rules.

By far the most time consuming task of the committee this year, as in past years, has been reviewing advertisements filed by members of The Florida Bar to determine whether they comply with the advertising rules. The committee reviews decisions of its staff regarding lawyer advertisements if the staff 's interpretation of a particular rule or advertisement is appealed by an advertising attorney. Advertisers can appeal decisions of the committee to the Board of Governors if they wish to do so. The committee also provides guidance to its staff and advertisers, pursuant to requests for guidance, in order to foster compliance with the rules and to permit advertisers to accomplish their legitimate advertising goals. The committee works hard to apply the advertising rules fairly to all types of advertisements and to balance the rights of advertisers with the needs and concerns of the public.

As in previous years, the committee has taken an active role in ensuring that lawyer advertising in Florida is filed with the Bar and is properly reviewed. Attorneys who have not filed their advertisements as required pursuant to Rule 4-7.7 must pay a $250 late filing fee and may be subject to further discipline from the Advertising Grievance Committee.

The Standing Committee on Advertising is made up of nonlawyers as well as lawyers. We believe that this has contributed substantially to our work and our broad perspective on advertising and marketing. I would like to thank each of our committee members: Halley Bronson Lewis III (vice chair), Ray Casas, Natalie Jackson, Gary Lesser, Adam Schwartz, and Michael Seminario.

Finally, the committee thanks our board liaison, Chobee Ebbets, DEUP Division Director Mary Ellen Bateman, and our hardworking staff headed by Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Tarbert. Without the participation and hard work of these individuals, the business of this committee could not be accomplished.


Animal Law

The Animal Law Committee enters its fourth year as a substantive law committee with several milestones. At the Annual Convention in June 2008, the committee presented a 4.5 hour CLE course titled The Nuts and Bolts of Practicing Animal Law Profitably. The presentation featured topics on recovering attorneys' fees in animal law cases, class actions, animal trust and estate planning, and animal control enforcement. This spring, the committee released its first redesigned electronic newsletter featuring articles on recovering damages in companion animal cases, prosecuting cases involving the killing of an endangered species, changes to Miami-Dade's animal ordinances, and Florida's Dangerous Dog Law. The committee intends to present another newsletter later this year and invites all members of the Bar to submit articles for consideration. Most importantly, this year the committee was reviewed by the Bar's Program Evaluation Committee and based on the recommendations of the PEC, the Board of Governors voted to maintain the committee as a substantive law committee. In that regard, the committee would like to thank all members of the PEC and the Board of Governors for their invaluable input and guidance throughout the entire process. The committee will be implementing changes based on the PEC's recommendations, which will make for an even better, more effective committee.

The increasing importance and relevance of animal law in our society becomes more apparent each year and spans wide areas such as elder law, disabilities law, trusts and estates, real estate law, condominium law, criminal law, city and local government ordinances and other laws, constitutional law, family law, trade in endangered species, asset forfeiture, genetic engineering, environmental laws, animal traps, cosmetic industry testing, and hunting. From Michael Vick's involvement in a dog fighting ring to pet food recalls to bald eagles being removed from the endangered species list, stories about animal law have become increasingly prominent. Additionally, our Supreme Court heard the case of Winter v. NRDC, which addressed the Navy's use of sonar and its impact on marine life. Coming up, the court may consider a case on whether depictions of animal cruelty are constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. These issues demonstrate the varied opportunities available for legal practitioners. In fact, over 100 law schools across the country now offer courses in animal law, including six law schools in Florida.

The next formal meeting of the committee is scheduled to be held on June 26, 2009, in Orlando in conjunction with the Annual Convention of the Bar. In addition to the meeting, the committee will offer a half-day program of continuing legal education in animal law as it pertains to Florida. We have sought approval to offer and issue CLE credits for that program. This year's program will focus on animal law in everyday life. All of the speakers and topics have been selected with the intention of helping attorneys in Florida to both understand and potentially incorporate animal law related cases into their practice.

The committee continues to strive to broaden its knowledge base as well as to educate others in this important, growing field. In fact, 16 other state bars now have an animal law section or committee, but The Florida Bar was one of the first to recognize this emerging area of the law.

The Animal Law Committee's goals and objectives for the upcoming year are to continue its CLE program and other educational efforts; to prepare additional newsletters; to provide animal law materials to The Florida Bar Journal and Bar News, and to develop a subcommittee for outreach to Florida law schools as well as animal law committees in other states.

On behalf of the committee, I express my thanks and utmost gratitude to our staff liaison, Tracy Brim, without...

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